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MANAGER: We dropped too far off it

More from Harrogate from Paul Simpson

9 November 2022

Club News

MANAGER: We dropped too far off it

More from Harrogate from Paul Simpson

9 November 2022

It was a game that was wide open for long periods at Harrogate on Tuesday night, with both teams pushing for the advantage at different stages but, in the end, it needed a last-ditch equaliser from Owen Moxon to leave the 599 fans behind the goal with something to cheer about.

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8 November 2022

“I’m going to be honest, that’s the only positive I can take out of it,” a disgruntled Paul Simpson told us. “The fact we haven’t lost the game is the only thing we can be pleased with.

“We showed good character and desire to keep going, but that’s the only thing we take from this. That performance is nowhere near what we are as a group.

“We had a really good opportunity here and it’s one we’ve wasted. We’ve come to a team that’s scrapping around to get results, we’ve gone ahead twice, but we’ve allowed them back into the game far too easily.

“I think we probably scored our first goal against the run of play, but it was a fantastic strike from Taylor [Charters]. That was a really good goal.

“We’ve then been really poor for their equaliser, allowing a run in behind, and our keeper not coming and cleaning everyone out and picking it up.

“We’ve been done from a set-play for the second with a free header inside the six-yard box. We’ve been done by the third goal with not pressing and getting out to the ball, which we talk about with them all the time.

“We let the shot come in from 20-odd yards, which isn’t good enough, and I don’t think we got a grip on the game at all at any stage.”

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“We told them before the game about the opportunity we had to go fifth in the table, the players were talking about it as well, but that wasn’t a level of performance from a team that really looked like they wanted to make it happen,” he added.

“If we continue to perform like that we won’t do it going forward from here either. It’s really frustrating because we’ve shown in the last two games the levels we can reach.

“I think that’s the problem we’ve got. When I came in last season, we weren’t getting results at that point, so everybody was delighted when we started to improve and get the performances as well.

“From there into this season, when we’ve been consistent, as we have been, something like what we’ve just seen is dropping too far off it.

“Look, I’m not expecting a total football performance from us because we’re not there yet. But I do expect players to work, compete and to pass the ball properly. I want us to keep the ball better than we did, that’s a basic requirement.

“I just think it’s really disappointing that we gave away such cheap goals. We kept changing things to try to get the reaction and get something from it, and thankfully we got the late goal.

“We had other good chances towards the end because they’d started to look a bit nervous, which can happen when you’re struggling to find results. I think we’ve let them off the hook when we should have been ruthless.

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10 November 2022

“We could have gone for the jugular, really took them to town, but we haven’t. We’ve got the draw but I’ve got to say that I’m massively disappointed with it being just a point.”

With four changes to the starting line-up, the manager had explained before kick-off that he wanted to freshen things up with a view to keeping the energy levels high.

“Maybe I was wrong to do that,” he pondered. “That’s something I’ll have to look at. I’ll have to look at everything, and I want the players to look at themselves as well.

“When you see a performance like that it’s not what we’re about at all. That’s not where we are. We have to get back to it for Saturday.

“I changed the formation for the second half because I was trying to get a reaction. I wanted us to get something out of the game. I actually felt that with the way it was going we weren’t going to get anything.

“That’s nothing against Corey because I don’t think he did badly. I just had to change it. We were having a real problem in midfield and I felt that we needed an extra body in there.

“I think we played three or four different systems, but I always say that systems and tactics aren’t what win football games, it’s players. They win games.

“It’s the players that have got us the point at the end because they’ve kept going. That’s nothing to do with tactics or anything like that. It was the players who got it and it was them who got us behind in the first place.

“If we do our jobs properly they don’t get any of their goals, because they were that poor defensively to give away. If we’re right he doesn’t get a free run for the first, there’s no free header for the second, and if we press Headley coming through he doesn’t get a free strike and he certainly shouldn’t put it in the bottom corner from there.

“That’s nothing to do with tactics at all. That’s simply people not doing their job. We’ll review all of that, and they’ve all said after the game that we need to come out and be better on Saturday.”

But it was real character to keep going into time added on to get that point, making sure that even though the performance wasn’t the best, it didn’t end in defeat.

“Yes, it was good to see that,” he agreed. “We showed character towards the end and it’s probably going to sound daft, but it’s easy to start playing when you’re behind because the pressure is off a little bit.

“If you want to achieve something you have to grab that pressure, embrace that pressure, thrive on it. We haven’t done that, nowhere near, until we went 3-2 down.

“That’s when we started pushing and looking like we wanted it. We had good deliveries from set plays, Ryan Edmondson put a great volley over the bar, Paul Huntington had a great header saved, Morgan Feeney headed just over, and I was delighted to see that one go in at the end.

“I’ve got to say it’s more a feeling of relief and I don’t even think I celebrated it. I was too annoyed with the performance, but I am really pleased that we didn’t lose it. If we’re honest, we probably didn’t fully deserve to get that point.”

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